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Morgan Stanley Tops Estimates; Wealth Profits Rise 1%

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Morgan Stanley’s New York headquarters (Photo: Bloomberg)

Morgan Stanley topped analysts’ estimates, though its net income fell in the first quarter from a year ago: It reported profits of $2.34 billion, or $1.39 per share, for the period ending March 31 — down 9% from last year’s $2.58 billion, or $1.45 per share. Revenues declined 7% to $10.29 billion.  

Wealth management revenue, however, grew slightly to $4.39 million, and the unit’s profits improved 1% to $924 million.

It now has 15,708 registered reps — up 26 from a year ago and 14 from the prior quarter. These advisors have an average of $158 million in client assets and $1.12 million of yearly fees and commissions (vs. $1.06 million in the year-ago quarter).

Rival Merrill Lynch’s advisor headcount is 14,761 — down eight from the prior quarter and 68 from a year ago. The average yearly fees and commissions for these and other Bank of America advisors are $1.04 million; among veteran Merrill FAs, though, this figure is about $1.35 million.

Total wealth assets at Morgan Stanley are $2.48 trillion — a jump from $2.37 trillion a year ago and $2.30 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2018.  

“We delivered solid earnings despite a slow start to the year following the turbulent markets in the fourth quarter,” according to CEO James Gorman. “Even though risks to the global environment remain, markets have recovered and we are well positioned to serve our clients and invest in our businesses.”

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